What is the reason for the alarming increase in cases of whooping cough?
Medical professionals are taking notice of the frightening increase in cases of whooping cough, a disease supposedly preventable by vaccine administration. Just recently, a public school district in the Boston area (Norwell), warned the parents of their community to watch for signs of the illness after three cases were diagnosed there.
Whooping Cough Is a Serious Disease
Research is demonstrating that the new vaccine being given to children may be to blame for the sudden spike in new cases. While the symptoms of whooping cough may mimic those of the common cold -- fever, congestion, hacking cough -- the disease is considerably more serious. According to Dr. Claire McCarthy, a pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital, "Whooping cough can just be a horrible illness, especially for newborns and young babies. Whooping cough can be fatal. In the 25 years I have been a pediatrician, we’re certainly seeing a lot more of it now than we used to and that’s because of the vaccine."
The Problem with the New Vaccine
The vaccine Dr. McCarthy is referring to is the new T-Dap booster given to young adolescents. A recent study presented in the Journal of Pediatrics reports that the vaccine meant to protect children does not appear to be providing the long-term protection it was meant to provide. The study shows that the T-DAP booster is only moderately effective for the first year and provides very limited immunity for the two to three subsequent years.
Dr. McCarthy points out that the previous whooping cough vaccine was more effective, but had more side effects, including high fevers. Occasionally, administration of the earlier form of the vaccine was also associated with seizures. Because of parental fears of dangerous side effects, the new vaccine was developed. Though it does not produce the frightening side effects, it also doesn't prevent the disease as effectively.
Now, freed of the worry of serious side effects, parents and doctors are alarmed by the rising number of whooping cough cases throughout the country. In 2012, the CDE recorded more than 48,000 cases of whooping cough and 20 deaths. These statistics are the worst reported since 1955. As is often true, the most vulnerable members of the population are hit the hardest. In Massachusetts, whooping cough cases are increasing most in children under 4 and adults over 65. Both groups showed higher rates in 2015 than in 2014.
Vaccine Administration Remains Somewhat Controversial
Although Dr. McCarthy advises that immunization, whatever its limitations, not only offers you and your child protection, but "protects everybody around you," there are parents unwilling to get their children vaccinated, particularly if the vaccine doesn't provide 100 percent protection.
If you or your child has had a serious side effect or reaction to a vaccine, you should contact a skilled attorney who specializes in vaccine law. There are laws in place to protect you, and funds available to compensate you for pain, suffering, and/or disability.